Freedom Scientific and Microsoft Continue Collaborating to Improve Access to Widely Used Products and Important Features

Last month, we told you about a collaboration between Freedom Scientific and Amazon to improve JAWS access to the Kindle App for PC. Now we’ll share some outcomes of a long-standing collaboration between FS and Microsoft that are positively impacting how people access information and perform critical tasks in multiple applications.

Microsoft products are regularly used at home, in school, and in the workplace to perform a wide range of tasks. Whether drafting personal correspondences, creating lessons for students, completing assignments, or writing business proposals, users rely on these tools to facilitate productivity.

The collaboration between Freedom Scientific and Microsoft spans 25 years and has proven fruitful in improving accessibility of widely used products and services. In recent years, our relationships with the Windows and Office teams have further developed, strengthening valuable connections that facilitate more targeted teamwork that makes all the difference when it comes to providing accessibility to users of our access technology products. Here are three examples.


FS and Microsoft have been working together on OneNote over the last year to improve accessibility. One issue that was identified and resolved occurred for JAWS users when using the arrow keys to navigate past the bottom line of a notebook, then attempting to move back to the top. Here, a JAWS user was unable to review information without navigating away and back using the ALT+TAB keyboard command. After working closely with a developer on Microsoft’s OneNote Team, the issue was rapidly resolved, and the outcome reflected in a subsequent OneNote update.

Windows Mail

A similar situation recently occurred in Windows Mail where JAWS users encountered a crash when using the arrow keys to navigate through messages in the inbox. Historically, our developers would search for work arounds to find a faster solution for these types of issues, but because we were able to collaborate with developers from Microsoft, the problem was quickly resolved without further efforts on our side.

Track Changes

Over the past year, FS has been very engaged with the Microsoft Office Team as a result of complications reported when using Track Changes in Microsoft Word, a tool that allows users to view edits, markups, and revisions made to a document. This feature is a critical aspect of many occupations and was brought to our attention by lawyers who are blind and are required to use it regularly.

Particular examples were provided to FS that identified specific issues when attempting to detect styling changes in documents. This information is essential because each styling might signify something different. While JAWS would detect some of the changes, others weren’t read at all, or would cause Word to crash.

As a result, both the JAWS and Microsoft Developers collaborated to make adjustments that improved accessibility when using Track Changes, helping many users overcome employment obstacles and improve productivity.

This is yet another example of the progress made when Access Technology and larger companies come together to open doors and increase possibilities. You can learn more about these and other improvements by visiting our JAWS Support Page and check out our Archived Webinars page for task-based trainings on using Microsoft products with access technology from Freedom Scientific.

Want to know more about how great communication and collaboration combine to enhance the overall user experience? Keep checking our blog for future posts where we’ll share how we’re continuing to work with mainstream companies to improve your access.